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A few thoughts on self harm

21/10/2009

A few thoughts on self harm

  • Why do you think more girls and women then men and boys self-harm - and what drives them to do it?

People that are experiencing emotional distress and don't feel they can communicate these negative feelings turn to self-harm. Traditionally men tend to express their stress and anxiety in an outward fashion, i.e., they "act it out". For example, they might act aggressively, or go up the pub and have a few drinks and get loud, or even get out on the football pitch and kick a ball around. Women on the other hand are expected to deal with stress and anxiety in a quieter and calmer fashion. However this is unrealistic for some women who find the stress and anxiety levels build such a level that they have to do something to release that emotional tension. Self-harm happens to be one of those "tension releasers" in the short term.

  • Past media reports about Kelly Holmes suggest that it affects high-achievers in particular - is this the case, and if so why do you think it is? Are we putting ourselves under too much pressure?

Self-harmers aren't necessarily high achievers however there is probably a higher proportion of high-achievers in this group. However you have to add to this a sense of low self-esteem and underdeveloped skills of communication. Then throw in a traumatic event or something like being bullied and you have a recipe for self-harm. A self-harmer should never be pressured to achieve more then is realistic for them. Certainly in our society where there's pressure for financial success and materialistic consumption people are often under huge pressure to work longer and harder. This is the last thing a self-harmer should do!

  • Can it be successfully treated - and if so, how?

As with any negative behaviour that becomes cyclic in nature, it can be treated but needs to be tackled at many levels. What happens is the self-harmer learns to release tension by hurting themselves when faced with a crisis or stress. This cyclic behaviour becomes habitual and as we know habits are hard to give up. They need to de-stress and their life. The need to learn to communicate with their loved ones. They need to take on a lighter load. And should have an "alert system" in place where if they're getting stressed they reached out to tell someone rather than for a razor blade.

Definitely seek help in confidence from your GP and don't keep it from family/friends